On April 5, Sérgio Moro, the federal judge heading the investigation into the Lava Jato (Car Wash) corruption case in Brazil, gave former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva until 5 p.m. on the next day to present himself to the Federal Police of Curitiba to begin his 12-year sentence. This followed a decision by the Brazilian Supreme Court (STF) to deny Lula a habeas corpus while he appeals his conviction in the case.
Continuation of the 2016 coup
Moro’s declaration caused an uproar both within Brazil and internationally. Major international media organizations have denounced the latest decision as a sign of the decay of Brazilian democracy. For example, an op-ed in the New York Times was titled ‘Brazil's Democracy Pushed Into the Abyss.’
João Pedro Stedile, leader of the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST), sees the latest developments as a continuation of the coup of 2016 that forced democratically elected Dilma Rouseff of the same Workers’ Party out of office through an impeachment process in the legislature. Stedile said:
They [the ruling class] needs to gain more time to guarantee the control of the Executive power in the elections in October. The people do not like them and they do not have a candidate. So this direction now that he go to prison is just another chapter of the general coup, that is against all of the people. They want to lock up Lula not because he has committed a crime; he has not. It is political persecution, to even the score and impede his candidacy.
Lawyers from Lula’s defence team claimed that the denial of habeas corpus violates Lula’s basic constitutional right of the presumption of innocence, “It is a decision that threatens the Constitution and definitely takes away a fundamental right,” they said.
Ex-President Dilma Rouseff spoke outside Lula’s home in San Bernardo do Campo on Thursday night. "They want to erase from history what we did in our terms. They want to erase the access to education for millions of young Brazilians. They don't want the black majority in this country to have access to public services. They don't want Brazil to be respected,” she said.
Free Lula with mass mobilization
Leaders from diverse social movements in Brazil have called for an intensification and amplification of the massive mobilizations and actions that have been happening in cities, towns, universities, municipalities, plazas, and all other possible spaces across Brazil since Wednesday morning. They are calling on the masses to support Lula, denounce the right wing’s blatant attacks on both his rights, as well as on Brazilian democracy and the constitution. Brazilian leaders have also called on people across the world to protest in front of the Brazilian embassies in their cities.
The platform of Brazilian social movements, Frente Brasil Popular (People’s Brazil Front) is among the countless leftist spaces calling for a day of people’s struggles and actions to defend the innocence of Lula:
The Supreme Court attempts with this decision to leave the Brazilian people out from the directions that the country must follow in this moment of political crossroads. The solution to the institutional, political, and economic crisis that today affects millions of Brazilians is in the elections. It is the people who should chose who will govern and what program will be the path the nation should follow.
Once again, the judicial power is full of political protagonism and creates an imbalance of the relationships between the powers. In fact, it fulfills the role of active servants of international neocolonialism that wants to suck Brazil in its multiple dimensions, its natural resources, its states, its labor relations and make it so the role of the nation is diminished in world geopolitics, becoming a colony once more.
MST leader Stedile also talked about the next steps that the left and working class must take to defend Lula:
This is still part of a long championship match, and with this, we must revolt and provoke a reaction from the people. The masses should be the protagonists of politics and not watch with their arms crossed...Tomorrow will be a day of national indignation...We have to do more in other places, in the plazas, public spaces, take the streets and protest against this prison. We don’t have Globo [Brazil’s largest media house], but we have social media. Use your profiles! Transform your house into a communications hub that is with the people. We need mobilization. Those who belong to trade-unions, go on strike! Show that without the work of the working class, they do not have wealth, they cannot continue exploiting us. The only way to free Lula is with mobilizations of the masses.
Today, in Brazil, in Latin America and across the world, people will take over the streets, the highways, the plazas, and all kinds of public spaces in defence of Lula, democracy and the working class.
To follow the struggles in Brazil in real time, follow Brasil de Fato.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are the author's personal views, and do not necessarily represent the views of Newsclick.